Super Mario Maker 2 Update Adds Playable Link, New Course Parts

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Mario and Zelda, two of Nintendo’s biggest franchises, have crossed paths numerous times before, most recently with the Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake, which features enemies from the Mario universe.

With an upcoming free update to Super Mario Maker 2, it’s time for the Hyrule warrior to visit Mario’s universe. The 2.0 update, arriving Dec. 5, adds Link as a playable character via the new Master Sword powerup item.

This new form isn’t just a costume swap either, as Link comes equipped with his sword, bombs, and arrows, opening up entirely new gameplay designs. Link can shoot arrows to activate switches, stab down with his sword to defeat spiky enemies, and blow up walls with bombs.

The only catch: the Master Sword is available exclusively on the original NES 8-bit Mario theme, recreating the pixelated look of the original The Legend of Zelda from 1986.

In addition to Link, the 2.0 update also adds several new parts, and a new speedrun mode. The new parts include Frozen Coins that need to be melted and Dash Blocks from Super Mario 3D World. Pokey, the stacking cactus enemy, also makes its debut on Super Mario Maker 2. And yes, you can directly edit its height.

Ninja Speedrun is the new gameplay mode, where players can take on timed challenges created by Nintendo specifically for this mode. Ninja Speedrun challenges will last for a week, with new courses rotating in periodically. Players will be ranked by their play time, and can see other ninja ghosts from a similar performance level running the course, as a way to improve. Players can collect stamps and earn Mii costumes by completing courses.

Super Mario Maker is available on Nintendo Switch. The 2.0 update arrives December 5.


Pokémon Sword and Shield Starter Evolutions Revealed

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Pokémon Sword and Shield have already been out for two weeks, and Nintendo and The Pokémon Company are just now officially revealing the evolutionary forms of the three starter Pokémon, as well as announcing another Gigantamax-capable Pokémon.

Grookey, the Grass-type monkey starter, evolves into Thwackey at level 16. Thwackey is known as the Beat Pokémon, and its held stick is now split in two which it wields like a drummer. At level 35 Thwackey evolves into Rillaboom, the Drummer Pokémon who is now a full-grown gorilla, who uses its sticks to beat on a tree stump drum.


The rabbit Fire-type Pokémon Scorbunny evolves into Raboot at 16 and begins specializing in kicking attacks. At level 35 it evolves again into Ciunderace, the Striker-Pokémon. Despite definitely looking like a Fighting-type hybrid, Cinderace remains a pure Fire-type Starter through all three evolutions, a rarity among Fire starters.


Finally there’s perennial sad-suck amphibian Pokémon Sobble, who evolves into an emo-lizard form at level 16 called Drizzle. Drizzle reaches its much improved potential at level 35 when it evolves into the Secret Agent Pokémon Inteleon, a suave anthropomorphic chameleon.


The newest Gigantamx Pokémon has also been revealed: Snorlax. Rarely when encountering a Snorlax in a Max Raid Battle, you’ll find one in a different form – that’s a Gigantamax Snorlax. Gigantamax Snorlax is so large and sedentary that an entire woodland park has grown on top of its belly, including a berry tree.

Giganamax Snorlax has the unique move G-Max Replenish, which replaces any of its Normal-type moves. G-Max Replenish deals damage as well as restoring any Berries that its allies have eaten during battle.

Pokémon Sword and Shield is available now on Nintendo Switch. It’s rated E for Everyone.


Pixelkin 2019 Holiday Gift Guide: Nintendo Switch

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For family-friendly gaming it doesn’t get any better than the Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo’s unique home-handheld hybrid found continued success in 2019, bolstered by excellent exclusive titles like Super Mario Maker 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Indie games once again found a welcome home on the Switch, with some indies choosing to launch exclusively on Nintendo’s console and skipping the others entirely.

This year also saw the release of the Nintendo Switch Lite, a cheaper, slightly smaller, handheld-only version. The Switch Lite would make the perfect gift for a kid or teen who prefer mobile gaming.

See below for all our Switch game recommendations from 2019.


Younger Kids

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King

Two classic platformers from the 90s, Aladdin and The Lion King, have been updated and packaged together as Disney Classic Games. As these games predate many of the modern conveniences we’ve enjoyed in the years and decades since their launch, players can now enjoy a rewind feature and easily activated cheat codes, which should come in handy for the notoriously difficult The Lion King.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Disney Tsum Tsum Festival

Fans of multiplayer Mario Party-like mini-games will delight at the neon-drenched, music-blaring arcade games of Disney Tsum Tsum Festival, starring everyone’s favorite chubby little toys.

Also available on: N/A

Doraemon: Story of Seasons

Story of Seasons, which used to be called Harvest Moon, is the original farming-RPG series that inspired the likes of Stardew Valley. Doraemon: Story of Seasons combines the beloved farming gameplay with the classic Japanese anime series Doraemon, featuring all the primary characters, including the titular time-traveling cat and his gadgets.

Also available on: PC (Steam)

Dragon Quest Builders 2

Dragon Quest Builders 2 continues the brilliant mashup of the colorful, kid-friendly Dragon Quest RPG series with Minecraft-like building and crafting. The sequel features a new retro fast travel system, the ability to fly and swim to reach new areas, and online cooperative multiplayer.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, PC (Steam – Dec. 10)

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Who ya gonna call when your friends and family run afoul of ghosts in a haunted hotel? Luigi grabs his trusty Poltergust vacuum, including a new feature to create a slimy copy called Gooigi. Luigi’s Mansion 3 also features cooperative and competitive multiplayer.

Also available on: N/A

Pokémon Sword and Shield

The Pokémon series needs no introduction, but Sword and Shield are particularly noteworthy for ushering in a new era of the main series breaking free of its handheld-only bonds. Sword and Shield take place in the UK-inspired Galar Region, and include many fun new features from last year’s Pokémon Let’s Go remakes.

Also available on: N/A

Super Mario Maker 2

The Super Mario Maker series features all the enemies, blocks, and tools to build your own 2D Mario levels, resulting in an astonishing amount of creativity and replayabilty. The Switch sequel adds even more tools and themes, a full campaign mode, and co-op and competitive multiplayer.

Also available on: N/A

Team Sonic Racing

Mario and friends aren’t the only ones who like to settle their differences on the race track. Team Sonic Racing features 15 racers spread over three distinct classes, and 21 different tracks, including favorites from previous Sonic racing games. Up to four players can race together locally, or up to 12 players online.

Also available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Untitled Goose Game

The goose is loose in Untitled Goose Game, where you play as a real jerk of a goose. It’s a light-hearted puzzle-adventure where you steal shoes, hide in boxes, scare children, and generally be a hilarious nuisance.

Also available on: PC (Epic Games Store)

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

The first Yooka-Laylee was crafted as a spiritual successor to the wave of 3D platformers of the late 90s/early 2000s, but was met with mixed results. The sequel, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair,  takes a far different approach, utilizing successful 2D level designs. It’s both a solid throwback to classic game design, and a refreshing modern update.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One


Older Kids & Teens

Astral Chain

After stumbling with the Star Fox on the Wii U, PlatinumGames has begun churning out frenetic action hits with 2017’s Nier: Automata and now Astral Chain, where futuristic cops use mystical chains to summon powerful creatures called Legion to repel an alien invasion.

Also available on: N/A

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition

If you were patient enough to hold off on getting one of the best RPGs of last year, you’ll be rewarded with an even better version of Dragon Quest 11 on the Nintendo Switch. Dragon Quest 11 S includes an optional 16-bit graphic mode and original Japanese voice acting, as well as expanded story elements.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, PC (Steam)

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

After a long stint on handhelds the Fire Emblem series returns to the home console with Three Houses. The tactical strategy series features three distinct paths as you choose your house and train your students for the wars to come.

Also available on: N/A

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

The Marvel Ultimate Alliance series pits everyone’s favorite Marvel heroes in top-down beat-em-up, co-operative battles. Build a team of four from over 35 heroes and combine their abilities to unleash powerful synergy attacks. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 supports both local and online cooperative multiplayer.

Also available on: N/A

Slay the Spire

What Slay the Spire lacks in graphics and animation it makes up for in depth of gameplay. The roguelike card game is well-balanced and tactically demanding as you ascend through dungeon rooms and challenges, playing cards, making choices, and building your deck. Three distinct classes offer multiple playstyles and a huge list of cards to find and unlock.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4

SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech

Indie studio Image & Form Games have been making colorful, well-written SteamWorld games for years, in several different genres. SteamWorld Quest is a tactical turn-based card game set within a fun fantasy world. The heroes are earnest and funny, and the meaty combat demands careful deck management and smart card timing.

Also available on: N/A


Wargroove asks one simple question: Do you like Advance Wars? The beloved handheld tactical strategy series has been given an excellent spiritual successor, transforming the pseudo-modern Advance Wars into a fantasy series with a lengthy story campaign as well as skirmish, puzzle, and map editing modes.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One


Mature Teens

Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition

Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the best tactical RPGs ever made, and now you can play it on the Switch. Join forces with cannibal elves, pirate dwarves, and royal lizards, or make your own heroes (and anti-heroes) across a humongous campaign that supports up to four player co-op.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition

Developers are bending over backwards to get their games on the fast-selling Switch, even gigantic RPGs like 2015’s The Witcher 3. The Switch version necessitates a downgrade in graphics, but being able to continue your adventures with Geralt on the go might give you a chance of actually completing this massive RPG.

Also available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One


Explore the Galar Region in Pokémon Sword and Shield, Out Now

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It’s a historic day for the long-running and incredibly prolific Pokémon series. Pokémon Sword and Shield are out today on Nintendo Switch, the first main series Pokémon game ever released on a home console – though, of course, the Switch is also a handheld.

Like previous generations, Pokémon Sword and Shield present an entirely new region filled with Pokémon. The Galar Region is modeled after the United Kingdom, featuring locations and themes inspired by the sports-loving country.

Trainers can choose between three starter Pokémon: Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble, and embark on a journey to become the very best, like no one ever was.

In addition to the standard Pokémon catching and turn-based battling, Sword and Shield add a host of new features and gameplay elements, and of course, lots of new Pokémon. Trainers can grow their Pokémon to extreme size and power via Dynamax, while select Pokémon will transform into more powerful forms called Gigantamax.

The Wild Area stretches for the length of the Galar Region, and features free-roaming Pokémon a la Pokémon Let’s Go, as well as online co-op Max Raid Battles against super-charged Dynamax Pokémon. Other welcome features include auto-saving, swapping out Pokémon in the wild, and being able to nickname traded Pokémon. Hardcore competitive trainers should be pleased to learn that Pokémon stats and Nature can be changed by feeding Mints and supplements.

Pokémon Sword and Shield are available separately for $59.99 in physical stores and digitally on the Nintendo eShop, as well as a dual-pack that includes both games. Purchasing the double pack also includes a special offer of two codes, one per game, that allows you to face off against Dynamax Larvitar and Dynamax Jangmo-o in Max Raid Battles.

Pokémon Sword and Shield are rated E for Everyone.


First Online Competition and Event Revealed for Pokémon Sword and Shield

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Pokémon Sword and Shield is out next Friday, November 15, and Nintendo has already announced a limited time event for certain Gigantamax Pokémon, as well as the first online competition.

Beginning November 15 through early January 2020, trainers will more likely encounter Gigantamax Butterfree in Max Raid Battles. Max Raid Battles are found via glowing Pokémon Dens in the Galar Region. They’re large-scale boss battles for four players online, each with a single Pokémon trying to take down a powerful Dynamax, or Gigantamax Pokémon.

Dynamax Pokémon have increased size and stats, while Gigantamax go a step further, changing their appearance and adding a powerful new G-Max move. Only select Pokémon have Gigantamax forms.

In addition to Gigantamax Butterfree, Pokémon Sword owners will see an increase in Gigantamx Drednaw Raids, while Pokémon Shield has Gigantamx Corviknight. Both are brand new Pokémon coming in Pokémon Sword and Shield.

The first online competition for Pokémon Sword and Shield is called Galar Beginnings. The competition can be accessed directly from the X menu. It’s a single battle, one-on-one format with teams of three Pokémon each. All Pokémon will be balanced to level 50, and certain Pokémon (most likely Legendaries) won’t be allowed. The Galar Beginnings competition will be available from November 15 to December 5.

Note that online play requires a Nintendo Switch Online membership.

Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have also confirmed and announced many features coming in Pokémon Sword and Shield, including several welcoming features from last year’s Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee. Pokémon Sword and Shield will finally have an autosave function, allow you to give nicknames to traded Pokémon (provided they don’t already have one), and swap out Pokémon without having to go to a Pokémon Center.

Pokémon Sword and Shield will arrive on November 15 on Nintendo Switch. It’s rated E for Everyone.